If you even remotely follow basketball, then you’ve heard of March Madness. The iconic tournament started in 1939 with just eight teams and has grown to feature 68 teams around the U.S. in the seven-round tournament. When you think about March Madness, or really basketball in general, you think about the legendary players, the mascots, the rivalries, and since the 90’s – the basketball court itself. But we bet you didn’t know the first ones to do graphic design on a basketball court were from a local Chattanooga company.
John Prater, a Chattanooga native, started Praters Flooring in 1990 and 31 years later his company is the provider for events like the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, the NCAA March Madness Tournament, SEC Tournaments, NBA and WNBA teams across the country, and so much more. What started as a way to tell the stories of local high schools in the Chattanooga area by putting their mascot or logo in the center of the basketball court turned into a blank canvas for both college and pro teams all over the country.
Before Praters Flooring, basketball courts were mundane, but John Prater had a vision. In the early 90’s John would go to sporting good stores and make copies of the clipart that was kept in a large binder so he could have a portfolio to offer coaches for the designs on their floors. By the late 90’s to early 2000’s Praters Flooring was doing entire floor designs. Some of their work includes a cityscape of the Nashville Skyline for Vanderbilt University, a beach scene for Florida Atlantic, a checkerboard court for the University of Tennessee, and even a frog skin court for TCU (Texas Christian University).
Up until the early 2000’s Praters Flooring had done a ton of work with more permanent designs for teams across the country, but in the early 2000’s they saw the need to develop temporary branding for portable courts that were being used in tournaments across the world. This opportunity opened the door for Praters Flooring to use playon decals™ that were reliable and safe for the athletes. Today Praters flooring has a standing and very involved relationship with Conner Sports and the NCAA creating the perfect team for sporting events around the world.
You might think that the story would stop there, but Praters Flooring not only creates designs for sporting events, they’ve also had their fair share of stardom. They have current partnerships with Warner Bro’s, Paramount and have even done work with Steven Speilberg. The work of Praters Flooring has been featured in numerous commercials and the iconic film Glory Road. Stay tuned for several big motion picture projects coming in the next year featuring Chattanooga’s very own Praters Flooring.
Although the event industry has was hit the hardest when COVID touched down, Praters Flooring was diversified enough to succeed. Through their permanent branding to portable courts and their relationship with the film and entertainment industry, Praters Flooring thrived. “Being in Chattanooga during the pandemic has really been the center of our success. We’ve gone back to our roots and are fortunate to be based in a totally hands-on community,” said John Prater. So, as you watch March Madness this year, you'll know that a little piece of Chattanooga is always there.